Fatboy Slim plays at Hot Box Live fundraiser in Chelmsford

Fatboy Slim performs onstage
Fatboy Slim is more used to big stages at festivals these days, such as at Glastonbury (pictured in 2016) [Tricia Yourkevich/BBC]

Legendary DJ Fatboy Slim performed to a crowd of just 90 people as he helped raise vital funds for a music venue.

The internationally acclaimed artist, real name Norman Cook, played the sold-out gig at Hot Box Live in Chelmsford on Wednesday evening.

Venue owner David Hughes said it was in about £80,000 of debt, which mainly stemmed from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cook said Hot Box had "a little piece of my heart in it" and gladly accepted an offer to perform for free.

Hot Box is based under one of the arches of the railway viaduct in Chelmsford city centre.

'Lifeblood of the industry'

"Britain produces so much great music and venues like that are the breeding ground where everybody cuts their teeth, where everyone learns their chops," the DJ told the BBC.

"Every Adele, every Radiohead - they need venues like this to start out in. It's the lifeblood of the music industry, so it's worth preserving.

"Anything I can do to help small venues stay in business or thrive, I will gladly do to give something back."

David Hughes
Hot Box Live owner David Hughes said costs were "spiralling" for many venues across the country [Jamie Niblock/BBC]

A total of 90 tickets for the hotly-anticipated gig were released and sold out in less than a minute, with 1,200 people left in limbo on a waiting list.

It was not the first time Cook, whose hits include Right Here Right Now, The Rockafeller Skank and Eat Sleep Rave Repeat, had performed at Hot Box, having played at two private parties previously.

The DJ said he "gladly" agreed to perform for a third time after being asked by Mr Hughes if he could help raise lifeline funds for the venue.

"Every time I go to venues like the Hot Box, I remember the days 40 years ago when I was playing venues like that - they've all got that same vibe and that same smell about them," he added.

"It's great fun. At my end of my career, I don't get to play intimate venues so much, but it's a joy."

Fatboy Slim performs during the 2023 Wilderness Festival at Cornbury Park on August 06, 2023 in Charlbury, Oxfordshire
Norman Cook rose to fame in the 1990s and had a string of chart hits [Getty Images]

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